A COMMON talking point in football circles is how, despite Malaysia’s passion for football, the country has mostly been absent from the world stage. Yet it can not be denied that Malaysian football players are continuing to try to put the country on the map.
One of these is 16-year-old Imran Abdul Rahman, who has proven his skills on the field enough to be accepted into the prestigious FC Malaga City Academy. He is one of two Malaysians accepted into the 2020/21 season at the Spanish football academy.
“I began playing at the age of four. It first started off as a hobby, playing in front of my house and then with friends, every single day. Through the years, I improved myself and began to take it more seriously. Then I thought of it as more of a passion and career to pursue,” Imran told theSun.
The young footballer, who studies at Cempaka International School in Damansara Heights, explained that the decision to pursue it professionally came about at the age of 13 or 14.
“My parents, family, friends, teachers and coaches were all very supportive. They knew this was what I wanted to do, and supported me all the way as long as I did well in school,” he said, with his father sitting by his side during the interview.
Growing up, like many others, Imran watched a lot of football players, naming Barcelona player Lionel Messi as his favourite. A left-footer like Messi, Imran says that no other players are able to do what Messi does on the field, and that inspires him.
Currently playing for FC Kuala Lumpur and his school team, Imran said that he would even sometimes help coaches when it came to teaching younger players.
Imran was recommended for FC Malaga City Academy after going through an agent, getting into contact with the head coach and sending in his CV, videos of him playing and other necessary documents.
“[Academy officials] had to go through their selection process to see if they could offer me a placement, and fortunately I got it.
“There are only two Malaysians going for this season. I hope that we can bring our national [pride] with us and show the people over there that no matter where we come from, we will still work hard to achieve what we want.”
Breaking down his playing style and strategy, Imran explained that being a left-back, he plays more on the left side of the field as it more natural for him.
“My playing style is simple, but I would say I’m effective. When I have the ball, I don’t do that many fancy skills and stuff, but I do simple things to get past players. For me it works.
“For every player, it is different. [Others] might do fancy things, and it works for them. But for me, I do simple things, and it works. So I try to master the basics and that helps me a lot in the game.”
Imran also admitted he has some experience playing on the right side, and “everywhere on the field”, except as a goalkeeper.
“For me, it’s good to know how to play different positions. For example, if I play striker and go back to left-back, I still have the attacking mindset, so in case I move up the field, I know what to do. In the end, I chose left-back because I enjoy defending. I try not to let opponents get past me, so I enjoy the position.”
Though Imran isn’t sure where he’ll be placed – despite picking a main and secondary position when applying to the academy – he affirmed that he will do his best regardless of where he is placed on the field.
“I’m sure they will educate us on playing different positions, because as a player it is good to get that kind of exposure because it makes you a more complete player. The programme runs for ten months. It starts this September and ends next year in June,” he said.
“For now my plans are to attend the academy, and then hopefully apply for a college or university that offers sports science, and to play football for that institution.”